Today, the song is famous for being the first name of Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of New York senator Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton.
Joni Mitchell was in Chelsea when she wrote it. Thank goodness she wasn't in Hell's Kitchen (also called "Clinton").
16 October 1992, New York Times, pg. C1:
He can show you the jewelry manufacturers in West 30th Street where Scott Ian of Anthrax worked for his father, and the 16th Street ground-floor window where Joni Mitchell was inspired to write her 1969 song "Chelsea Morning."
19 January 1993, New York Times, pg. A15:
On a Morning
And a Name
It started with a hotel: th Chelsea Hotel in New York City, where Joni Mitchell was staying and, one bright morning, felt as if "the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses." These impressions inspired "Chelsea Morning," the song that gave Chelsea Clinton her name.
But to Chelsea's parents, "Chelsea Morning" is a Judy Collins song. The Collins version came out in the summer of 1969 as a single, and was a modest hit. It had also appeared a few months earlier on Ms. Mitchell's second album, "Clouds."
Mitchell used to live in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. This was inspired by a beautiful morning when the sun came into her apartment.
Bill and Hillary Clinton named their daughter Chelsea after this song. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2)
Woke up, it was a chelsea morning, and the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window, and the traffic wrote the words
It came a-reeling up like christmas bells, and rapping up like pipes and drums.